DANNY Ings pulled on a Burnley shirt for the first time on Tuesday night - and scored his first goal inside 17 minutes!
The striker injured his knee in shooting practice after training shortly after arriving from Bournemouth in August.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel for the 19-year-old after coming through half an hour for the reserves in their 2-1 win over Preston North End at Chorley’s Victory Park.
The goal was a bonus, closing down Scott Leather before racing into the box and angling his shot across keeper Andrea Arestidou and inside the far post, but he’s not getting ahead of himself: “It was a big moment for me, my first game since I came here.
“I was desperate to get out there and try to show what I’m about. I think I showed little glimpses of that.
“But it was a very serious injury so you have to take it bit by bit, step by step, to make sure I’m 100% before I try to push for the first team.
“It’s definitely a relief for me but at the same time I’m no nearer (the first team) yet so I need to get fitter and stronger and score more goals.”
Ings enjoyed a promising cameo, showing good pace, movement and one glorious crossfield pass, but he feels he’s not close to top speed yet: “I’m nowhere near it yet. I still feel a little bit sluggish but I’m doing leg weights every day and building myself up to get even fitter than I was before.
“I’m a little way off my best because obviously it’s been a long time, but I’m confident I’ll get there soon.
“The plan next should be to play the whole half.
“If I get through that then hopefully I’ll get 90 minutes.
“I’ve got to be very patient. There are a lot of good strikers ahead of me at this club and they’re doing very well, scoring goals. Hopefully I can push myself and maybe get on the bench and go from there.”
His goal is a huge lift, though, and he smiled: “I’m over the moon that I’ve come back and got a goal.
“It’s been very frustrating but I’ve been around great people, the likes of Pato, Duffo and Beasty and all the other lads who have been injured.
“They have helped keep me strong mentally and the physios have been fantastic.
“I was concentrating more about getting through the 30 minutes without any problem. I did that and it was just a bonus to get the goal.
“To be honest I didn’t see it go in because it was quite a tight angle.
“As soon as I saw it hit the net I was so happy.”
Ings believes the spell out has made him mentally stronger: “It definitely has. It was a massive setback for me straight after moving up from down south.
“Being on crutches, on my own at the hotel for a little while, it was quite hard, but I feel like I’m over that now and I’ve got good things to look forward too.
“I’ve met a lot of people up here and they are a great bunch of lads at Burnley. They welcomed me and have been brilliant. Hopefully I can repay them now.”
Ings’ goal 11 minutes from time sealed the three points in a scrappy game.
Wes Fletcher put Burnley ahead midway through the first alf when he slotted in after Arestidou fumbled Joe McKee’s cormer, but George Miller equalised just before the half-hour from a free kick.
Burnley: Jensen; MacDonald, Long, Fry, Johnson; Lynch (Coleman 47), McKee; Treacy (Ings 62), Knowles, Hines; Fletcher (Hewitt 43). Subs not used: Cook, Wilson.